The unexpected visit of a black vulture

6 April 2017

Who said that the black vultures live only in the mountains, far away from people? Our long work on those rare and significantly beautiful vultures confirms, every time we have the chance to observe them, that despite the fact that the black vultures are usually lonely birds, they can suddenly appear in residential areas near big cities, mainly as an attempt to find food.

Even if it’s quite rare, when a black vultures appears in a city is something very unexpected that brings people closer to the magic of nature and reminds them of how beautiful the black vultures are!

In march the owner of a cantina in Alexandroupoli and with his costumers heard a deafening noise. What was their surprise when they saw a big and imposing black vulture that had landed impetuously on the sidewalk staring at them.

Тhe unexpected visitor.
Тhe unexpected visitor.

The residents rushed in order to stop the cars passing by that area and protect the black vulture. A few minutes later, once the vulture pulled itself together, opened its large wings and flew to the neighboring field, where it stayed for some hours. The vulture’s maneuvered low-level flight surprised people, as the opening of its wings can reach up to 300 cm!

That wasn’t the first time that Alexandroupoli residents saw a black vulture in their life. Nevertheless, this was a very different experience, as they had the unique chance to observe the bird for a long time from a very short distance.

The local “eyewitnesses” reached out the Alexandroupolis police department, which informed the WWF team about the incident, inviting it on the site to confirm whether the black vulture was injured. Representatives of the Dadia Forest National Park Management Authority and the Aegina Care Center have also arrived on the spot. Luckily, the black vulture was healthy, with his wings working perfectly. He had one of the most beautiful and harmonic flying styles of its kind! The black vulture was ringed in 2007 when it was 3 years old, meaning that we have an adult and experienced 13 year-old vulture that probably visited the area looking for food, being unable to fly high up in the sky because of the strong northern winds of that day.

Our encounter with this beautiful and courageous black vulture ended as suddenly as it started,and we really hope that our roads will cross again!

What we do?

WWF Greece is active in the wider region of Thrace during the last 25 years, having as goal the protection of the birds of prey, emphasizing more on rare vultures, such as the Black Vulture and the Egyptian Vulture. The protection of these rare birds of prey that chose Rhodope’s mountains so as to be reproduced, is achieved through a comprehensive activities plan, which includes, among others:

  • Monitoring, recording and contribution to addressing external factors that threaten their life in the area, such as poisoned baits, electrocution after colliding with power lines.
  • Evaluation of the facts and figures regarding the condition of their population in the wider area, as well as designing activities for the restoration of the vultures’ population and the prevention of future dangers .
  • Participation to cross-border projects, such as LIFE Vultures that promotes the cross-border cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria, having as goal the increase and establishment of the Black Vulture and Vulture populations in Southeast Europe.

It’s worth mentioning that since 2013, and after 20 years of active field work, WWF Greece team handed over to the Management Body of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park all the activities that had to do with the monitoring of the Black Vulture’s population. Within this context, the two entities collaborate closely for the creation of all necessary pre-conditions, in order for the population of Black Vulture and the other vultures of the area can recover.

These multiannual initiatives resulted to a significant increase of the number of the Black Vultures’ pairs (from 6 to 35), while several other achievements have been reached; the protection of the habitat of the vultures and birds of prey, the protection of their nests from noise and other external factors causing discomfort, the implementation of measures for the habitat’s improvement through a proper forest management plan, as well as the establishment of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park in 2006.

P.S. Many thanks to Alexandroupolis Police Department for the cooperation, as well as to Alexandroupolis Forestry that responded immediately and contributed to the incident.

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